Commitment and Consistency

Commitment and Consistency


Naomi Isenberg and Markus Brauer.


Commitment and Consistency

Naomi Isenberg and Markus Brauer. 2022. (View Paper → )

The use of commitment and consistency principles in research and applied fields has demonstrated how effective these principles are in influencing behaviour. Commitment and consistency are effective because people have the desire to maintain consistency with their self-concept, self-presentation, values, and behaviours. Commitments are acts that bind people to future behaviour, providing a mechanism through which consistency is engaged. When individuals make a commitment to behave in a certain way, they are more likely to follow through with the behaviour.

This is a comprehensive literature review of papers that document how commitment and consistency techniques are used to influence behaviour. These include:

  • Foot-in-the-door technique: This involves getting a person to agree to a small initial request, which increases the likelihood of them agreeing to a larger request later on. The small initial commitment paves the way for greater compliance due to a desire to appear consistent.
  • Binding communications: This technique involves making a public, voluntary, and active commitment, which then binds the individual to the commitment due to the pressure to maintain consistency with the publicly expressed stance or decision.
  • Low-ball technique: Here, an initially attractive offer is made to get an agreement, but then the terms are made less favourable after the commitment is obtained. Individuals often stick with the commitment due to the initial decision to commit, showcasing a desire for consistency.
  • Four walls technique: This method involves leading someone through a series of questions or statements with which they agree, effectively 'boxing them in' to a position that makes agreeing to a final, related request seem consistent with their previously expressed beliefs or actions.

Such strategies involve inexpensive preparatory actions that enhance the likelihood of agreeing to subsequent, high-cost requests. Other methods remind individuals of their values or past behaviours to encourage desired outcomes. Clearly, these strategies can be deployed in product onboarding.